6 day old kits are having trouble staying warm

by Mary Grace
(Nova Scotia, Canada)

Hi there,

I have a 2nd time Mother. She is my Grand Champion doe (woohoo!), she is a Californian and she really looks after her litters. The problem is not her... It is the weather. It is VERY cold here. -20 Celsius give or take 5 degrees.

Since today (day 6) I have been having trouble keeping the kits warm!!! They all have turned grey from being chilled, and I had to revive the whole litter once. There are 7 remaining... There used to be 10.

I warmed them up by our fireplace earlier, and that is where they are right now. I am totally comfortable with them staying there... It's just that I am not sure the Mom will feed them if I keep them in the house. I have heard of other breeders managing this, but I have never done it so I am quite anxious. I really want this litter to do well! They are a one-time breeding with a great breeder's buck.

I guess, taking out all the other info, that I am asking how I can make sure (or make it as easy as possible) that she feeds them if I keep them inside when they are not being fed. How can I give them back to her later after they are making their own body heat and staying warm? Is that even a possibility?

Thank you VERY much. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Mary Grace

***** Karen Sez *****

Keeping the kits inside as you are doing is one frequently used method of keeping kits alive when the temps drop significantly below zero, either C or F. I suspect your doe will do fine with you bringing the kits to her once or twice a day, and then returning them to the house in the meantime. Or, take the doe to the kits for their ten minutes at the milk bar.

Have you tried stuffing the doe's cage full of straw? Literally? That might provide enough insulation that you can keep the nestbox in the cage. Did the doe pull enough fur?

The kits can probably stay out with the dam when they are 3 weeks old. At that point their fur will be long enough to keep them warm.

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Aug 03, 2017
Not enough fur bedding
by: Anonymous

My doe just gave birth last night. She did not pull much fur. I have the kits with hay & what fur she did pull. It is a steady 90 degrees here, so I am not worried about warmth as much and they are in constant shadow. Is there something safe I can provide for their nest? Thank you.

***** Karen Sez *****

Hi Anon, you're on the right track, and I think everything is probably fine, given the temperature. (How cold does it get at night?). If you think you need it, try combing through the doe's fur and grooming out some extra loose fur. If you have more than one rabbit, you can also comb through that one too, if necessary.

This is why, when a doe pulls half her fur and the nest box is overflowing with it, we remove a good portion of the clean overflow and save it for the times the doe seems loathe to pull sufficient fur, like in your case, now. Good luck with everything, and enjoy your bunnies!

Jan 06, 2013
Thank you!
by: Mary Grace

Hi there,

I have decided to keep them inside. The doe is feeding them really well! Full tummies all of them. Thank you for all of the advice! I had not tried to stuff the cage with hay, but the doe did pull enough fur (there was a fur mountain) so I have no idea what happened there fur-wise. Next litter I will completely stuff the cage!

It is also good to know when I can leave the babies out with her!

Thank you so much!

Mary Grace

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